Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

Dana Alison Levy
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 2016   ISBN: 978-0553521306

For the Fletcher family, summer means going to Rock Island. Dad and Papa own a little summer house there,and this summer they are going to spend five weeks on the island. Sam, Jax, Eli and little Frog are eager for the sun-filled days to come when they will run up the lighthouse stairs, eat ice creams, swim, have chowder at their favorite restaurant, and do all the other things that they love doing when they are on Rock Island. They know that Rock Island will be the same and that everything will be just the way it was last summer, because on rock island “Time Stands Still.”

Only is doesn’t. When they arrive at the house they find out that the lighthouse, which is right next door and which they have always considered an extension of their property, has a great big metal fence around it. And a Keep Out sign. And a Sale Pending sign. Everyone, even Dad and Papa, are affected by this. What does it all mean? Papa explains that sometimes lighthouses are bought and restored. Maybe that is what is going on. He promises to call Captain Jim to find out what is going on. They have not even unpacked yet and already something about the island is not the same.

Other things have changed too. There is now an ice cream truck that comes to the part of the neighborhood where the Fletcher home is. Everyone is happy about this development. After all, summer vacations and ice cream go together. Then they find out that for the first time in who knows how many years someone is staying at the Wheelright house for the summer. While the boys are buying their ice creams, two girls come up and introduce themselves. They are Val and Janie, and Val even says that Sam is “cute,” which he finds embarrassing. He heads for home as soon as he can.

Unfortunately, he cannot get away from the giggly girls. They turn up on the beach with their fancy clothes, girly bathing suits, and loud music. Val’s brother Alex also comes to the beach but he isn’t irritating like the girls, and better still he is happy to play soccer with Sam, Eli and Jax.

The Fletchers are able to find out that the town decided to sell the lighthouse because it needed renovation. A man was interested in buying it but was hurt by falling masonry when he visited it one day. He closed the lighthouse so that it can be assessed, and if it is in really bad shape it will have to be torn down and replaced with a more modern lighthouse. Everyone is really upset about this news. Then Eli comes up with an idea. They should fund-raise to get the money needed to save the lighthouse.

The boys set too with a will, and soon enough they have a lemonade stand set up at the docks in town. They do quite well and raise quite a bit of money. Until Sam gets scared by bees, knocks over the stand, and he and their bag of money ends up in the ocean. This is not an auspicious beginning.

As the days unfold, more changes take place that unsettle the Fletchers, and try as their might to enjoy themselves, the worry about what is going to happen to the lighthouse hangs over everything.

This wonderful book makes it possible for us to go on vacation with four boys, their two dads, their two cats and their dog. This year their time on Rock Island is different; changes are in the air and there doesn’t seem to be anything that they can do about it. What is interesting is that the boys come to appreciate that change is not necessarily a bad thing. With wonderful touches of humor, and gentle moments that offer up ideas worth thinking about, this is a book that young readers will come to love.